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Subject: WIP - Micro Game Contest - The Draugr rss

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todd sanders
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WIP thread for a micro game I am working on for the MicroGame Print and Play Contest [2014]. This game will include a custom die, 21 cards and some eurocubes in 3 colors.

The basic storyline is that the player has come to a town corrupted by an attack of Draugr (a rather cool Norse mythos corpse monster with possible magic powers - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draugr)

The townsfolk and locations must be prevented from further corruption (5 of the 9 cards in the matrix) while the player attempts to kill 4 of the Draugr.

This is a solo game and I am working out some simple AI moves where the game actually gets progressively harder the more Draugr you kill

There is some definitely luck/randomizing in the game with the addition of the die but some careful planning will mitigate that.




WIP Rules and Components - http://pl123.pairlitesite.com/cards/draugr/

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todd sanders
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Here is a look at the current card designs and a quick layout graphic of the components



As with any game, a decision tree is a good basis for strategic play. Do I do this, or that. A majority of the cards have an 'or' statement allowing the player to choose one of the options. I've gone and provided a balance of all options for the two types of resources (Holy Water and Iron) but with 5 cards not n play in a game, this causes an imbalance and puts added emphasis on some of the choices

Basic game play:

To win: Kill 4 Draugr before they corrupt 5 cards (Locations and Townpeople)

Each round the player rolls the die twice. First to select the row or column influenced by that Draugr, and a second time to place Corruption Markers on all cards in that row or column with a matching symbol to the die roll. If any card has 4 markers on it, it is considered Corrupted

The player will then move their marker orthogonally from one card to another in the 3x3 matrix (and they are prevented from moving back to a card they were on in the previous turn)

Cards allow you to gain Holy Water and Iron Marker resources, protect cards from Corruption and add resources to the Draugr to kill them. You begin with a limited number of resources so you must produce more in order to win. You gain the resources back after slaying a Draugr but good management and growth of resources are important.

I've worked to thematically link card actions to the particular Townspeople and Locations (you are not going to go to the Priest to get extra Iron Markers for example)

This is all fairly standard resource type management. The AI comes into play when you kill a Draugr.

At that point the Draugr is removed and an adjacent Draugr slides up/down or left/right to influence 6 cards, and later potentially all 9 cards.

In the example above if the player has slain Lord Molton, Lady Belthane would slide down 1/2 row and influence both bottom rows.

While the probability of rolling Lord Moulton on the next dice roll remains, rolling Lady Belthane will cause more cards to be potentially corrupted.

I've also added a small icon at the bottom of the Townspeople cards. If a Townsperson is fully corrupted then that card's ability is lost. (This may be only an advanced play rule)

Lady Belthane and Ivers also have an additional icon in them preventing Draugr adjacent to them from having Holy Water or Iron markers placed until they are slain. This can potentially cause a no win situation if these tow cards are adjacent to each other and the Seeress is not in play so I do have a design problem there still.

Further playtesting to ensue this week but i welcome comments.


I do think I've probably explored the "cards with actions, produce resources" mechanic fairly well by this time but I am taking one more crack at it in the micro format.


Important to me also is a balance of women and men townspeople and that the character marker is double sided with options for all players. There should not be any colorblind issues with game since i am keeping the color palette very minimal


Artwork for the game comes from a public domain version of Tales of Mystery by Poe. The graphics are a bit gory, so this game may not be suitable for young players.
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todd sanders
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Some roman a clef easter eggs in the game include

Doctor Feval is named for Paul Féval who was an early french serial novelist who has a really interesting vampire trilogy. The vampires are unlike the Stoker version or more modern takes. Well worth reading in an english translation by Brian Stableford

Lady Belthane is named after Beltane, a Druidic seasonal festival
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Jake Staines
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Sounds a bit similar to Ghost Stories - so if you haven't seen that, definitely check it out!

I like the sound of the increasing-difficulty mechanic - although I'm not sure how it works. If the probability of rolling a particular Draugr remains the same, but after its neighbour dies it affects twice as many locations, doesn't that mean that the chances of a particular location being affected remain the same overall? Some turns the empty killed-Draugr slot will be rolled and nothing happens, and other turns the double-effect Draugr slot will be rolled?
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Caroline Berg
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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Subscribed! I can't wait to see the final version. I know I'll be playing it.
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John Middleton
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Looks great, Todd! Is there any in game significance to the script along the top of the town cards?
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todd sanders
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yes John, the symbols across the top are used during the 2nd die roll in the Corruption Phase to determine which cards receive Corruption Markers.

And as to Ghost Stories. I've only played that once a number of years ago. I will have a look at the rules file to make sure I am following a divergent path
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John Middleton
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Ah, I see the icons on the dice now.

As a side note, I took a Old English lit class back in college and during our time with Beowulf we spent a great deal of debate on the subject of draugr. Some of the words used to describe Grendel contain that word as a type of root or corollary, implying that Grendel, if not a draugr proper, certainly was similar in some regards or at least contained a set of properties consistent with what defines a draugr as special in the very least. The roots also extended to some other entities beyond typical middle earth, meaning many of the notions contained in what we know as draugr-like are huge components to the old English era ontology. Pretty neat stuff, and I wish I knew more about it all.

Anyway, I applaud your ability to wind gameplay around a such a cool theme and am excited by it.
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todd sanders
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alright i have reviewed the Rules to Ghost Stories and other than a 3x3 matrix and a similarish idea about haunting my game has little in common with GS

still not able to resolve the feedback loop thst can occur with the two special resource preventing icons on teo of the Draugr cards so i shall drop that idea

i am though now thinking about the bottom and left side of the Location and Townspeople cards are possible adjacenies for something affecting the Draugr. adding some sort of action benefit

these icons would only be applicable for the leftmost row and bottommost column. but it would allow me to add some additional AI complications based on the initial random layout

some potential as well, and this is borrowed from GS that the cards when corrupted are turned over and something occurs or is prevented

more thinking needed though as to whether i want to further complicate the game.

as always the first rule is to pare things down and then pare again


would be nice though to make the 3x3 matrix feel like more of a town with adjacent relationships between the cards. if i was a better illustrator i might add birds eye views of buildings to those cards so the player would have a sense of moving around the locations. the flip side to using public domain art sometimes is not having all the elements you need and a hard time finding ones to match
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todd sanders
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thinking now perhaps the location cards when they are adjacent to a Draugr cause the die to be rolled a third time. thr die would have one Holy Water icon on one face and one Iron icon on another face. a player would have a 1/3 chsnce of losing a resource and a 1/6 chance of the type lost


this would drive further scarcity of resources beyond those placed on a Draugr card and raise the stakes about using certain actions that gain new resources
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todd sanders
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just found another site with more images from Harry Clarke's Poe illustrations, so I may swap a few draugr images out for better ones
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todd sanders
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more playtesting today revealed the extra icons at the top of the cards help. I need to provide a direction on the player counter, this will help prevent movement back to the space you just moved from. the counter will now only move forward or left/right each turn

the die has had an extra symbol added on two faces. to provide another decision point on the player. 2 of the tougher draugr, until you slay them, run you the risk of losing 2 Holy Water or Iron Markers during the Corruption Phase

also added the back of the card




and the newest all components overview

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Caroline Berg
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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Love the card backs! The look of horror on the guy in the coffin's face is priceless. You always manage to find such amazing artwork to use.
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todd sanders
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Thanks Caroline

well further playing just now with some options adjusted. the game certainly is functional. haven't beat it yet. so on thst level it works

just still no real pizazz. rinse and repeat. some moves are not really a choice, because there is an optimal move at that point

seems to be the right number of eurocubes now

just hummmmm want it to be more interesting. again i may be being hard on my own work which i often am. will write up the rules as they stand now for others to try and possibly comment on. do that very soon in at least a bare bones version
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todd sanders
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excuse the chunky nature of this image but i am on my ipad and do not have my stylus

i have been sitting here thinking about the game and maybe this is a possible solution



one reason the game might be too limiting right now is not enough cards in the center to play off of. a way around this is to rethink the matrix layout

in this diagram i could have 12-15 cards in the center and there is more room for the player to move their counter. this feels a bit more like a town the player is wandering in. there could even be some sort of icons on the center cards which direct the direction of movement or cards could interact due to adjacencies.

could even have a card ability that moves townspeople around so you could create a resource engine of some sort if lucky

i think all 15 cards is manageable. definitely need to add some icons so a quick scan could be done to see where needed resources can be found

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todd sanders
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yes, this does indeed have some possibilities


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Vandel Arden
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Wow, this became very inetresting so far.
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Chris Bogert
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I agree, this looks very interesting and right up my alley. Can't wait to try this one.
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Kārlis Jēriņš
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I don't have anything useful to contribute to this thread since I don't really play solo games, but I have to applaud you for the idea of using Draugr as the foe to stop, and for providing the wikipedia link about them - I'd seen creatures called Draugr in Morrowind, but had no idea they were a mythological creature, and that wiki page is a really interesting read. Thanks!
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todd sanders
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thanks all. more work on this today since my schedule is clear
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todd sanders
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some good work this morning on the game. I pulled all the cards into a large pasteboard space and organized them by similar actions so I could see how they might interact.

Card layout is now the 3x5 grid

The Town Square is where the player begins the game and stores their extra markers

The Shepherdess gets a counter which can be placed on any card (or moved) to protect it from further corruption (important for the Townspeople [and maybe the Locations} because as they are corrupted, the card is turned over and you can no longer se that action.)

You can see how the cards are grouped by actions here


top row actions remove Corruption tokens

2nd row are basically wild card actions

bottom group add markers to your supply or place markers on the Dragur to slay them

I have tried to relate the action somewhat thematically to the name of a Townsperson or Location so there is some connection between theme and mechanic


all the markers will fit on the leftover space on the 3rd page of the component files. still using 21 cards


and here is a midgame shot of everything. Two of the cards have been fully corrupted and are flipped to the back side. The Nunnery is protected by the Shepherdess from further corruption. Though the Seeress and Shepherdess cards are close to being flipped over.



Movement I think will change slightly, with the expanded matrix a player will be able to move up to two cards in any one direction (or turn the corner if you reach an edge). With the player marker being directional it prevents to some degree just looping and engaging the same actions over and over. I still need a way to prevent a two move loop however.

When a Draugr is slain, the adjacent Draugr still slides up or down to control the slain Draugr's row


Feeling stronger about the game today, it is still luck driven with the die throwing phase but the expanded playing area and 2 space movement rule both go a long way towards better decisionmaking
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Vandel Arden
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Your first draft reminded me of teh game Splendor, due the placement of teh cards.
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todd sanders
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working today on the rules write up
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todd sanders
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first draft of the rules, and all the artwork (cards and markers) is up on my server - http://pl123.pairlitesite.com/cards/draugr/

Card/Marker pages should be printed and matched back to front (pg 1 with pg 2, etc). If you wish you can skip printing the back sides of the cards since the game is still under development.

welcoming any comments.
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todd sanders
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it was just suggested to me that instead of a custom die, the 6 draugr die faces could easily be PnPed as counters that are pulled from a bag each turn for the randomizing
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